There are three main types of handwriting on the Pont maps:
- Timothy Pont's secretary hand
- Timothy Pont's italic hand
- Robert Gordon - Italic hand
1. Timothy Pont's secretary hand
Secretary hand was the common handwriting of literate society in the 16th century, and was used by Pont for nearly all his notes and descriptive remarks of any length. This script largely died out in the 17th century and is quite difficult for us to read today. As shown in the illustration, its main distinguishing features are:
- for letters in words to be joined together
- the lower-case 'h' to end in a steep slope down to the left
- a 'p' usually written in a single stroke down to the left
- two varieties of 'r', one like the number '2',
and the other cup-shaped and similar to 'u'
- a short 's', written as
- 'd' and 'e' quite similar, both open, with a c-shaped curl below and loop above
2. Timothy Pont's italic hand
This is by far Pontıs most common form of handwriting, used for nearly all place names. As the italic script is the main source of our handwriting today, this is much easier to read. The main features that distinguish it from the italic hand of Robert Gordon, who also wrote on the maps (see below), are:
Pont's ink tends to be browner and greyer than that later used by Robert Gordon, and often underlies Gordon's blacker ink.
- the capital 'L' with its lower curve
- the lower-case 'y', with its distinctive loop
- the horizontal bar over a lower case 'u' to distinguish it from 'r' or 'n'
- the horizontal dash as a mark of abbreviation for letters (usually 'm' and 'n') at the end of words
- the greater use of abbreviations for common elements. These abbreviations can clearly be seen in example 2, above, and include 'K:' (kirk), 'L:' (loch), 'Cast:' (castle), 'W:' (west), 'E:' (east), 'O:' (over), and 'N:' (nether)
3. Robert Gordon - Italic hand
Robert Gordon edited and revised the Pont maps and only wrote in italic style. The main features that distinguish his writing from Pont's italic hand are:
Robert Gordon's ink tends to be darker and blacker than Pont's, and written on top of Pont's earlier ink.
- the neat, carefully-formed, slightly sloped script
- the forward curve at the top of ascending letters (e.g. 'b', 'd', 'h', 'l', and 't') and a backward curve at the base of descending letters (e.g. 'f', 'h', 'P', long 'S', and 'y')
- the more ornate opening capital letters, with a line at their extremity and a stroke at their base
As well as Pont and Gordon, several other people have written on the Pont maps. All the large, bold titles in very dark ink are by Sir Robert Sibbald, who at one stage possessed the maps after Pont's death. But there are several other pieces of text whose authors have not yet been identified. These include the poem on Pont 23 back, the Latin note on the Antonine Wall on Pont 32, the Dutch note on Pont 34, and notes in French and Latin on Pont 26.